Use Linux on Windows simultaneously via WSL - ­čĆć Managed Server


May 21, 2023

Use Linux on Windows simultaneously via WSL

How to install and use Ubuntu Linux on Microsoft Windows 11 ?

In modern times, technological innovation advances at a frenetic pace, with new solutions and ideas continuing to arise. Microsoft, a technology industry giant, has recognized the enormous potential of Linux, once considered a competitor, and has now welcomed it with open arms. This acceptance is the result of a change of perspective: Linux is no longer seen as an adversary, but as an opportunity.

Microsoft, in collaboration with Canonical, has in fact taken a revolutionary step: the integration of Ubuntu into Windows 10 and obviously into Windows 11.

This move provided a bridge between two seemingly distant worlds, giving users the ability to experience the best of both worlds.

Until recently, if you wanted to use Linux on a Windows PC, you had two options. The first was to partition the disk in two, installing Linux on one partition and Windows on the other, and choosing which operating system to boot at boot time. The alternative was to run Linux inside a virtual machine, such as VMWare Workstation or Virtual Box. Both of these methods, however, required working on separate filesystems.

The advent of Ubuntu Linux on Windows changed all that. It is now possible to work on the same filesystem, allowing for example to generate a file with Microsoft Excel and then use a combo of sed and awk to extract data and generate reports. This represents a huge step forward in terms of efficiency and flexibility.

Convenience from Microsoft and Canonical

This innovative collaboration between Microsoft and Canonical is highly beneficial to both parties, creating an ecosystem where users can benefit from greater flexibility and functionality, while companies can exploit new market opportunities.

On the part of Microsoft, the integration of Ubuntu into Windows 11 allows it to retain and attract a wide range of users, who can find an answer to various needs in the hybrid environment. In particular, users who occasionally need Linux features, such as software developers or system administrators, now no longer need to leave Windows or start a virtual machine. This could increase user loyalty to Windows and solidify its position as the operating system of choice.

For Canonical, on the other hand, the presence of Ubuntu on Windows 11 represents a great opportunity to increase the visibility and usage of its Linux distribution. While Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions for desktops, in the server markets it may be less attractive than established competitors such as RedHat Linux RHEL or Debian. Thanks to the integration with Windows, Ubuntu can reach a much wider audience, spreading on one of the most used platforms in the world.

This collaboration therefore represents a shining example of how openness and interoperability can create value for companies and their users. The union of Linux and Windows not only improves the user experience, but also allows Microsoft and Canonical to expand their reach and strengthen their position in the operating system market.

The benefits of using Ubuntu Linux on Windows 11

The integration of Ubuntu Linux into Windows 11 offers many advantages, especially for system administrators and systems engineers. First, it allows you to use the wealth of Linux commands directly in a Windows environment, without having to start a virtual machine or reboot into another partition. This means you can harness the power of Linux commands for file management, networking, and more right from the Windows terminal.

Let's take the example of a system administrator who has to manage a variety of servers, some of which may be Linux-based. In the past, you'd have to constantly switch between different interfaces and operating systems, a process that could be both slow and disorienting. With the introduction of Ubuntu on Windows, he can now use Linux commands to manage servers directly from his Windows PC, thus increasing his efficiency.

ubuntu windows 11

Additionally, the combination of Ubuntu and Windows provides a more versatile development environment. For example, applications can be developed in a Linux environment, tested locally, and then deployed on a Linux server, all without leaving the Windows environment. This eliminates the need to maintain two separate development environments and reduces the possibility of errors caused by operating system differences.

Finally, using Ubuntu and Windows together allows you to have the best of both worlds. On the one hand, you have the convenience and ease of use of Windows, with its large selection of desktop applications and its support for the latest hardware. On the other hand, you have access to the power and flexibility of Linux, with its wide range of tools for system development and administration.

Ultimately, Ubuntu on Windows 11 offers a more flexible and powerful workplace, capable of meeting the needs of a wide range of IT professionals. The fact that you can now use Linux and Windows simultaneously, on the same system, is a huge step forward for interoperability between operating systems.

How does Ubuntu Linux WSL work on Windows 11 and what is WSL?

WSL, short for Windows Subsystem for Linux, is a compatibility environment for running Linux binary executables (in ELF format) on Windows. First introduced in Windows 10, WSL has been significantly enhanced in Windows 11 to offer better performance and tighter integration with the Windows operating system.

At a very high level, WSL acts as an interface between Linux commands and the Windows kernel. When a user issues a Linux command in WSL, it is translated into a command that the Windows kernel can understand and execute. This allows users to run Linux programs directly in Windows, without the need for a virtual machine or dual boot.


With WSL, Ubuntu Linux can run as a kind of application within Windows. After installing Ubuntu from the Microsoft Store, users can launch an Ubuntu terminal directly from Windows, and from there they can execute Linux commands as they would on a traditional Linux system. WSL also supports installing Linux packages via package managers like apt in Ubuntu.

One of the key advantages of WSL over other virtualization solutions is its integration with the Windows file system. Users can access, edit and manage files on both operating systems from a single interface. This facilitates data exchange between the two operating systems and makes integration between Windows and Linux applications easier.

Another advantage of WSL is that, unlike a full virtual machine, it consumes fewer system resources, since there's no need to emulate an entire operating system.

We install Ubuntu on Windows 11

To install Ubuntu on Windows 11 in Italian, here are the necessary steps:

  1. Launch the Microsoft Store: From the application bar, click on the Microsoft Store icon to open it.
  2. Research Ubuntu: In the search bar at the top right, type ÔÇťUbuntuÔÇŁ and hit enter. Different versions of Ubuntu will be shown. For most users, Ubuntu (without any version number) will be the best option.
  3. Install Ubuntu: Click ÔÇťGetÔÇŁ to download and install Ubuntu on your system.
  4. Enable Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL): Ubuntu on Windows takes advantage of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). To enable WSL, open PowerShell as administrator (right click on the PowerShell icon and select ÔÇťRun as administratorÔÇŁ) and type wsl --install, then press enter. This command will install the Windows Subsystem for Linux and the Ubuntu version of your choice.
  5. Restart your system: After enabling WSL, restart your system to complete the installation.
  6. Start Ubuntu: Once the system has restarted, you can start Ubuntu directly from the Windows Start Menu. On first launch, you will be prompted to create a new user account and set a password.

Done! You have now successfully installed Ubuntu on Windows 11, allowing two of the most popular operating systems to work together in harmony. With this innovation, users can now enjoy the best of both worlds, combining the power and flexibility of Linux with the familiarity and convenience of Windows. This can help improve productivity, reduce costs, and open up new possibilities for developers, system administrators, and tech enthusiasts.

GNOME GUI on Ubuntu Linux on Windows 11

While WSL2, the latest version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux, offers a nearly complete Linux environment, it does not natively support graphical user interfaces (GUIs) or desktop managers such as GNOME. This means that, by default, users can only interact with Ubuntu on Windows through the command line.

However, with some tricks and tricks, it is possible to install and use a desktop manager like GNOME on Ubuntu WSL2. The steps required to install GNOME and connect graphically are listed below:

  1. Install an X server on Windows: The first step is to install an X server on Windows, which will act as a communication layer between the Linux GUI and Windows. Xming and VcXsrv are two popular options. You can download them from their official site and follow the instructions to install.
  2. Installing GNOME on Ubuntu: Open the Ubuntu terminal and type the following command to install GNOME: sudo apt install ubuntu-desktop. This command will install the Ubuntu desktop manager, which includes GNOME.
  3. Configure the DISPLAY variable: In order for Linux graphics applications to communicate with the X server, you need to configure the DISPLAY environment variable. Type the following command into the Ubuntu terminal: echo "export DISPLAY=:0" >> ~/.bashrc. This command adds the line export DISPLAY=:0 to your bashrc file, which runs every time you open a new terminal.
  4. Start X server and GNOME: Before starting GNOME, make sure your X server is running. Then, in the ubuntu terminal, type gnome-session to start GNOME.
  5. Graphic connection: You should now be able to launch graphical applications from Ubuntu and see them appear on your Windows interface. For example, you could try launching the Firefox web browser by typing firefox in the Ubuntu terminal.

Remember that this is a temporary and unofficial solution. While it works for many applications, it may not be as stable or performant as a native Linux environment with full GUI support. Additionally, Microsoft is working to offer full GUI support in WSL in future versions of Windows; therefore, it may only be a matter of time before these operations become obsolete.


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